One afternoon, just after I turned 30, I decided it was time to finally read the Bible – the whole Bible, cover-to-cover, Genesis through Revelation, no matter how long it took. Excited and often challenged by what I was learning, I eagerly shared my newfound knowledge with my husband, who wasn’t nearly as interested in listening as I was in speaking, but who patiently endured until I broached the subject of tithing.
“Is that 10% of gross or net?” he asked, slightly annoyed.
“Gross,” I replied. “I’m pretty sure God comes before taxes.”
“Do you have any idea how much money that is?”
Well, no, actually I didn’t. The conversation quickly ended with, “You can give as much to church each week as we spend on entertainment.” It wasn’t a tithe, but it was a start.
Months later, Tony walked in from work in the middle of the afternoon with a large cardboard box in his arms. “I lost my job today,” he said. “It’s time we started tithing.”
What? I thought. “Your job? And you want to tithe now?” I could barely speak.
“Yes, now. Off my severance check.”
I think I stopped breathing. I definitely couldn’t believe what I was hearing. We had no income, no insurance, two young sons, and a baby daughter on the way. What a time to test God. Yet that’s exactly what my husband was doing. Like Gideon in the Old Testament, Tony needed assurance – tangible, unmistakable proof that God is as good as His Word, and for him there was no better time to begin. So my husband threw out his fleece – ten percent of his severance check – and waited.
God’s response was immediate and abundant, if somewhat overwhelming. Unexpected refund and rebate checks began arriving in our mailbox, so many of them that we wondered what God would possibly do next. We continued to tithe off every dollar that came in, and it didn’t take us long to discover that we simply couldn’t out-give God. The more we gave, the more He poured into our laps, “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over” (Luke 6:38). We were hooked.
Over the years, we’ve learned that tithing wasn’t the ultimate object of that lesson, Biblical giving was. Second Corinthians 8:14 says, “At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality.” That’s why we give.
God gives to us so that we can give to others. We are blessed to be a blessing, conduits of God’s grace, mercy and abundant love to one another. Giving isn’t about a set percent, and it’s not about what we can do, but about what God can and will do through us when we’re willing.
“’Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.’” Malachi 3:10.
So go ahead, test the Lord and see what He will do. We dare you!